By: Leo Funa
Each text portrays how the sustainability of a livelihood has been threatened, and in the Anazasi’s case, completely extinguished. Opperman asserts that eco-literature “attempts to transcend the duality of art and life, human and the natural, and to work along the principle of interconnections between them.” I believe that this notion was properly expressed throughout these particular readings. Both texts enhanced my understanding of sustainability by using literary concepts to illustrate the palpable effects of the ecological crisis.
In Devil Deer, Anaya depicts nature as object in relation to the presence of humans. She utilizes the contradictory forces of humans and nature as the driving force of the story. While the hunter Cruz was considering the signals that the environment was sending him, his thought process shifted towards his particular needs as well as his obligations towards his family. This was a manifestation of the nature/culture dichotomy discussed by Opperman. There is an inherent divide between the particular wants of humans and the natural world and this was superbly executed through Anaya’s portrayal of Cruz’ ambiguous emotions. Also, I felt empathy for the hunter’s condition, one of being jarred out of contentment by the harsh realities of the natural world. Cruz “felt no celebration in taking the life of the buck,” which signifies a form of personal displacement within him.
In Upper Grand Gulch, Zwinger examines the land and tragic history of the Anazasi. In this case, Grand Gulch in Utah functions as the subject – the land itself is the primary storyteller that is accompanied by the musings of a narrator (Zwinger). I was impressed by the ability of the author to weave the land’s history into the striking collection of imageries used to describe the place. Zwinger’s use of salient descriptive aspects such as handprints that “seem more than an innocent glee” and “the feeling of an open, warm, peaceful world” helped me visualize the wonder of this hallowed land. I was struck by one particular line in the text, a line used by Zwinger to ponder the saga of the Anazasi – “there must have been good living here, before the mistrust, the hunger, the fear, the bad times.” Reading this made me wonder: are future generations going to be describing us in a similar fashion?
There is a stark contrast between the overall tones of each piece. On the one hand, Devil Deer has a manner of gloom and an enveloping feeling of dread throughout the story. On the other hand, Upper Grand Gulch is remarkably joyous with an attitude of veneration towards the land. Zwinger’s choice of words added an air of mysticism to the text that Devil Deer, despite its foray into the world of dreams, failed to capture. I do believe that Devil Deer is very effective in conveying its message through the use of fear and gruesome imagery; however, the feeling of positivity emanating from the ending of Upper Grand Gulch is more adept at helping me envision a brighter tomorrow. Hence, Zanaya’s feeling of perpetual serenity towards the land resonated more with me.
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By: Kelsey White
In each text, I have considered looking into the lens of sustainable development and sustainable living offered by each author in the context of Oppenheimer's theories on eco-literature. Both texts progressed my understanding of sustainability by concepts to foreshadow and threaten future economical downfall. Both pieces feature indigenous cultures in the American Southwest from different time periods in which the sustainability of a live hood has been threatened. The idea of nature as a subject versus an object comes to play in the stories when the talks about hunting begin. Humans consume nature in every way from meat, to water, to fur, to resources.
I can connect with the narratives from my own personal understanding of sustainability and they way I live today. I have been vegetarian for 2 years; however, I do not judge others for eating meat or harming nature. I became vegetarian strictly for health reasons, as there is a long history of cancer in my family. Although I am strong in my beliefs, I do not look down on others that do use nature's resources.
The two pieces lead with a different mood and vision of life on the land. The feelings in each ending elect a different outcome. One offers a more powerful impetus for change and a deeper understanding of our relationship to the natural world. There is vivid contrast in the outlook and tone of each text. Devil Deer embodies tragedy and an unfolding feeling of sadness throughout the text. I think that Devil Deer is most effective in translating a message through the use of harsh imagery to illustrate economic downfall. I feel that this method of writing grasps the reader with fear and stimulates the mind to ask further questions.
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By: Erina Sookiasian
Through both readings assigned, a powerful messaged was clearly written, that the very nature of our home, is slowly diminishing. First with Anaya's story of the "Devil Deer," we see that the deer have gone scarce from not only over consumption, but the lack of wild life anymore. "He had gone into the forbidden land, into the mountain area surrounded by the laboratory fence. There where the forest had glowed at night and the earth vibrated to the hum of atom smashers, lasers, and radioactivity." The end of the story Cruz was deeply affected by his findings, that what he knew best, what he has been taught by the generations before him would alter his cultures history which scared him. Then in Zwingers story, "Upper Grand Gulch," we see a man portrayed as a traveler among the people with little attachments to each place slowly "exhausting local resources," or "putting a heavy strain on them," because again it is what these people know best. At the end again we see another making pottery because it is what they know to do best and is all that they can do to survive.
Both stories ended with the people forced to adapt to their environment, but i felt Anaya's story made a greater impact because we often let these big business men come in and tear down our green natural land in exchange for cash flow rather than praising the land given and enjoying it. Showing the effect all the radiation had on the buck shows that we could be next. It's not like it hasn't happened before. Rather than just thinking of the environment as trees being cut down, or animals dying off, we must take a look at the bigger picture and see that everything around us is being affected by these changes, whether it is a growing population in Zwingers story or not. We are quickly exhausting our resources leaving only room for experimental projects that only cause harm. Our relationship to the natural world is a bond that cannot be broken, because without our forests and natural life we would cease to exist, until we find another alternative, until then we can only dream of a more sustainable life here on earth.
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By: Ramon-Alberto Alejo
Devil Deer by Rudolfo Anaya stood out to me the most. The way the author told the story was very vivid and easy to follow. In this reading, nature as a subject versus nature as an object collides together the moment the talk of hunting began. The fact is, we as human beings consume a piece of nature one way or another in order to sustain our lives. Many of us have are not even closely aware of the process of getting food to our table. Rudolfo illustrates the life of the hunter early in the story when he discusses how they stay up late at night eager to kill a buck the next few days. “The men were excited. The old men talked of hunts long ago, told stories of the deer they had seen in the high country sometimes meeting deer with special powers” (p. 275. While the hunters enjoy, the deer hypothetically count their final days.
Although I am not a hunter and I have never hunted a deer in my life, this story reminds me of the type of malice society places upon people they hardly even know. Too often, it appears that many are quick to judge other without knowing who they really are, or maybe not even knowing who they are. Unfortunately this sometimes ends in death. Similar to the story of the elephant man, the deformity of the deer brought fear and negativity to the local towns men. Even at a deceased state, the deer was labeled a Devil Deer. “His friend had been up on the mountain all day. And he had killed a devil deer”. (p. 279). Truth is, this deer did not asked to become an object of a sport, didn’t ask to be effected by the mysterious laboratory, and did not try to attack even when being attacked. This devil deer was labeled based on its looks not its actions.
I am not a vegetarian and yes I do consume meat on a daily basis. I am aware how hypocritical it may be to say that I care for the well being of the animal, but when portrayed in the way Rodolfo had done, I cannot help but to feel bad for the animal. Earlier in the story, the author mentions the hunter’s knowledge of the amount of deer becoming scarce; too many hunters and not enough deer. With that being said, it would be a good idea to input change in the aspect of finding other earns of consumption. Something that is more available to the community. Food is indeed a necessity but the hunters had turned necessity into wrath and competition. A deeper understanding, even more me, is very much needed.